Buying a home is a big financial and emotional commitment. You pour a lot of energy into finding just the right place for your family to live, you evaluate all of your options carefully and you sink most of your liquid assets into the deal. That makes it all the more upsetting when you find out that there is some hidden defect in the property that could be expensive to fix.

What now? It doesn't seem fair that you should have to shoulder the entire financial burden of the fix, but how do you hold someone accountable for a deal that's been over for months -- or possibly years?

While a minor defect that comes to light after a sale might not give you a reason to sue, you can certainly consider making the seller or the realtor accept responsibility for a major defect that you believe they knew was there.

For example, if you discover that the paneling in the finished basement was hastily erected to hide damp, moldy walls, there's every likelihood that the seller, at least, knew that the mold was an issue and was purposefully deceptive. Maybe you barely begin settling in when you discover that the stove is hiding a scorch mark on the wall and there was an undisclosed fire in the kitchen.

You may also be able to hold your home inspector liable for the issue in cases where you paid for their services and they overlooked something. For example, if an inspector told you that your home was termite-free and you find out the garage is infested, you may be able to make them accept liability for your losses.

Never assume that you're simply "out of luck" when something goes wrong. Find out more about your legal options for recovery.

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